Colonial Fantasies

February 15, 2019, Panel 3 "Colonial Fantasies": Bertie Mandelblatt and Nathan Braccio present their papers. For more panel videos, click here.

"Potato Pieces, Bananeries and Jardins à nègres: Mapping Colonial Fantasies of Self-Sufficiency in Plantation America" is curated by Bertie Mandelblatt. Mandelblatt is both a historical geographer of the early modern Atlantic world (PhD, University of London, 2008) whose research focuses on the first French empire in the Caribbean, and a trained librarian with experience working with cartographic materials in university libraries and special collections. Mandelblatt is currently the George S. Parker II '51 Curator of Maps and Prints at the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, Rhode Island, where she works with the many JCB Fellows, works in acquisitions and engages in scholarship based on JCB collections. Previously, she taught in the History and Geography Departments at the University of Toronto, amongst them courses on historical cartography, where she trained undergraduate students to analyze European and Amerindian maps of the colonial Americas to understand what they reveal about spatial visual representation, political power and empire in the early modern period. Mandelblatt is currently finishing a book based on her doctoral dissertation entitled “Feeding Slavery: Empire and Food in the French Atlantic.” In her research, she reconstructs the contested histories of subsistence, food provision and food consumption from the beginning of French colonization in the Antilles in the 1620s, up until the French and Haitian Revolutions of the 1780s and 90s. Mandelblatt argues that questions of subsistence lay at the heart of the spatialities and broad political economy of plantation slavery, and that scrutinizing patterns in food provisioning, subsistence crises and the solutions that were sought to alleviate them reveals fundamental aspects of how plantation slavery arose and developed.

"English Fantasies of Indigenous Deeds: The Strategic English Employment of Maps and Algonquians" is curated by Nathan Braccio. Braccio received his PhD in history from the University of Connecticut in 2020, and received an MA in history from American University in 2013. His dissertation, “Parallel Landscapes: Algonquian and English Spatial Understandings of New England, 1500-1700,” examines the ways in which Algonquians shaped and molded how the English understood the landscape of New England during exploration and early colonization. In 2017, Nathan was awarded the J.B. Harley Fellowship in the History of Cartography to pursue research in London. More about Nathan’s current work can be found on his website,